Inaugural ceremonies mark the peaceful transfer of power.  Inaugurals are a time of hope, of reflection on where our country stands, and of celebration.  Shortly before noon on January 20, 2017, in a ceremony at the Capitol, President-elect Donald Trump swore the oath of office, becoming the 45th president of the United States.  He delivered his inaugural address and set to work at governing.


58th Presidential Inaugural: "Make America Great Again!"

Donald Trump ran a decidedly non-conventional campaign and observers expected that his inaugural ceremonies, while featuring many basic elements could also include non-conventional aspects. The inaugural theme continued on from the campaign: "Make America Great Again!"  According to PIC chairman Tom Barrack, “The 2017 inaugural celebrations will reflect President-elect Trump’s eagerness to get to work in order to make our country safer and stronger(+).”

Schedule of Events

Thursday, January 19, 2017
Wreath Laying Ceremony
Arlington National Cemetery

Lincoln Memorial

Friday, January 20, 2017
West Front of the U.S. Capitol

Inaugural Luncheon
Statuary Hall

Pennsylvania Avenue


Saturday, January 21, 2017
National Prayer Service
Washington National Cathedral


Organizing the Inaugural Activities

Every four years three committees form to organize the inaugural activities. 

The Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTR-NCR), a joint task force of the five Armed Forces branches, is "charged with coordinating all military ceremonial participation and support" for the presidential inauguration.  (Prior to the 2013 inauguration JTR-NCR was known as the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee or AFIC).  For the January 2017 inaugural ceremonies, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Bradley Becker is the commander of JTF-NCR (+).  Eight-hundred-and-twenty service personnel, including full-time (PCS/permanent change of station) and personnel on temporary duty, are authorized to work on the task force.  Including the parade and ceremonial support some 5,000 service members will participate in the Inauguration (+). 

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) is responsible for all events held at the Capitol (+).  The JCCIC is a committee, established by a congressional resolution, consisting of six leaders of the House and Senate.  For the 2017 inaugural, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is chairing the JCCIC.  The JCCIC held its organizational meeting on April 13, 2016, and did the first nail ceremony, marking the start of construction of the inaugural platform on Sept. 21.  The FY2016 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill funds the JCCIC at $1.25 million and "provides funding for the Inaugural stands and support facilities within the Architect of the Capitol budget; and includes associated overtime and security costs within the Capitol Police budget."

The final piece is the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC), charged with organizing events for the Inaugural.  A PIC is formed every four years after the general election and must accomplish most of its work in a period of just two months.  On Nov. 15 President-elect Trump announced leadership of the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, headed by chairman Thomas J. Barrack (+).  Sara Armstrong served as CEO (+), and there were about 400 people working on the committee.  Many campaign operatives end up working for the PIC.  The PIC raises funds from donations.  (The 2013 PIC reported net donations of $43.8 million.  The 2009 PIC reported net donations totaling $53.2 million). 

The PIC sets an inaugural theme, in this case "Make America Great Again!"  Past themes have included: "Our People, Our Future" (2013), "Renewing America's Promise" (2009), "Celebrating Freedom-Honoring Service" (2005), and "Celebrating America's Spirit Together" (2001).  Signature events of both of President Obama's inaugurals were a day of service.  Other high-profile publicized events include concerts and inaugural balls.  The PIC may also put together a few more limited events such as receptions or dinners for donors and supporters or a staff ball.  This 2017 PIC reportedly had trouble finding entertainers willing to participate in events and produced few events.

In addition to the PIC, JCCIC and JTF-NCR, numerous agencies coordinate on security for the events of inaugural week.  Because the Department of Homeland Security designates presidential inaugurals as National Special Security Events (NSSEs), the U.S. Secret Service is the lead agency (+).  For the 2013 inaugural, the Secret Service established a Presidential Inaugural Multi-Agency Communications Center which hosted "representatives from 42 agencies, including law enforcement, utility companies, transit authorities, and the military."  

Complementing the official activities, state societies, interest groups and other organizations host inaugural balls and events around Washington, DC.  News organizations devote significant planning and resources to bringing coverage of the inaugural festivities to their audiences (+).  The hundreds of thousands of people who travel to the capital for the ceremonies challenge transportation and communication services but also boost area hotels and businesses. 

Trump set off a bit of controversy over crowd estimates for his inauguration; crowds were significant, but did not match the Obama record from January 2009.  In January 2013, following Obama's re-election, more than 800,000 and possibly as many as one million people attended the ceremonies.

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